Door County is one of the most dog-friendly getaways in the Midwest. This northern Wisconsin escape, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, is well known for its scenic views, cute small shops and unique restaurants. With a large number of dog-accommodating hotels, restaurants and parks, it’s really the perfect place to escape with your four-legged best friend for the weekend. Located less than 4 hours from Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago, you don’t have to travel too far with your dog to get there either. Are you wondering where to stay in Door County with your dog? What to do with your dog in Door County? Or where to dine with your dog in Door County? We’ve got you covered after visiting many times with our pup. Use our guide below to plan your own perfect dog-friendly Door County trip.
FYI: This post was written based on several trips taken anywhere from late May through late August
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Looking for another midwest adventure? Check our our guides on Starved Rock State Park in Illinois as well as our Complete What to do Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Guide and Dog Friendly Apostle Islands Guide.
Dog Friendly Door County Activities
Hike at Peninsula State Park
Peninsula State Park is our favorite state park that we have visited in Wisconsin. The mix of bluffs, shoreline and hiking/biking trails makes it the perfect place to spend the day with your dog.
Our favorite hiking trail here is the Eagle Trail (2.0 loop) with its beautiful shoreline and impressive bluff views. However, be mindful that this trail has many uneven rocks. It is somewhat technically challenging and steep in many spots but very pretty. The picture at the beginning of this post is from the Eagle Trail.
Our second favorite hike, that we do almost every visit to Door County, is a combination of the Nicolet Bay Trail, the Skyline Trail and the Hemlock Trail. This loop is about 5.0 miles in total by starting and ending at the amphitheater parking lot. See this Peninsula State Park Map to map it out. When we do this hike early in the morning, around 7am, we typically do not see anyone else. We love the seclusion of this trail through the woods of Peninsula State Park. And our pup loves it too!
Tip: Peninsula State Park is the most popular park in Door County and can get very busy at times. We recommend visiting in the early morning or later afternoon to avoid the crowds. If you want to camp here, make your reservations 6+ months in advance.
Dog Friendly Beach/Hike at Whitefish Dunes State Park
This park provides contrast to Peninsula State Park with its impressive sand dunes. For dogs that love sand, this Wisconsin State Park is heaven. They have a dog friendly beach here where your dog can run around and swim in the clear northern Lake Michigan water. Our dog truly lives his best life here.
Bonus: Visit Cave Point County Park. From Whitefish Dunes State Park, you can hike or drive to the very close, picturesque Cave Point County Park.
Hike Potawatomi State Park
Potawatomi State Park is located on the southern side of Door County on the shores of Sturgeon Bay. This park feels like a hidden gem in comparison to Peninsula State Park as it has the beauty without the crowds. Our favorite trail here is the Tower Trail as it offers a good amount of variety with shoreline, limestone cliff and forest views.
Hike at Newport State Park
This park is located on the northern tip of Door County. It is the most rugged park of all the Door County State Parks. The trails here are peaceful and feel untouched. The dog beach was our pup’s favorite spot at this park.
Tip: Beware of the mosquitoes here! They were viscous during our late June visit.
Skyway Drive-in Movie Theater
A drive-in movie is a fun and nostalgic experience for the whole family, including your dog. The theater typically plays two featured films, back to back, for one price.
Watch Sunset in Ephraim, Fish Creek or Sister Bay
The sunsets in Door County are breathtaking over Lake Michigan. Make sure to take in the views from the bayside of the Door County Peninsula. Our picture above is from a sunset in Ephraim.
Dog Friendly Door County Restaurants
Harbor Fish Market & Grille
This place takes dog friendly to the next level–they have their own dog menu! We loved our brunch here and our dog did too. We have also gone to a lobster boil here which was a bit pricey but certainly a fun and unique experience.
Wild Tomato Pizza
This place is home to some of our favorite pizza. We make sure to get it every time we are in Door County and have eaten at both locations (Fish Creek and Sister Bay). The Veggie Pizza and Cherry Walnut Salad are our favorite menu items.
Not Licked Yet Frozen Custard
You can get a free puppy cone here for your dog with any purchase. There are tons of unique custard Sundae options making this a fun experience not only your pup but you as well.
Waterfront Mary’s Bar & Grill
This is located very close to Potawatomi State Park and is located right on the shores of Sturgeon Bay. The food is simple bar food but the atmosphere is really why you go here. We enjoyed eating lunch outside on the water after hiking at Potawatomi State Park.
Dog Friendly Door County Accommodations
Country House Resort in Sister Bay
This resort is located on a private shoreline in Sister Bay. Here, your pup will be greeted with a dog welcome basket. There are also plenty of amenities here for your use as well . With your stay, complimentary use of kayaks, rowboats and bikes is included. There is also a nice nature trail located on the property of this private resort. We have never stayed here but Natalie’s parents have and loved it.
Tip: Book this resort as far in advance as possible. Since this resort offers more of an experience with all of its amenities, this accommodation books much further out than our other recommendations. We have never stayed here because we never plan our trips to Door County far enough in advance.
Beachfront Inn in Baileys Harbor
This motel is located right on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. This location is within walking distance of the Harbor Fish Market & Grille as well as several other restaurants in downtown Bailey’s Harbor.
O’Malley’s Inn in Ephraim
We have stayed at this simple motel-style inn several times. The location of this inn is perfect, right off of Hwy 42 and less than 5 minutes from the north entrance to Peninsula State Park. The rooms here have very pretty views overlooking a wooded area. These woods behind the inn also have about 2.0 miles worth of hiking trails which we enjoyed walking with our pup.
Update: Since our last stay here, O’Malley’s has changed ownership and is now called Chatham Hills. You no longer can individually rent rooms here but instead rent out the ENTIRE place (13 bedrooms, sleeps 30) and it would be a great spot for a large family gathering or reunion. The place is more pet friendly than ever too with the property supplying crates, dog beds, bowls, leashes and more. However, this is now only a reasonably priced option if you have a very large group and are splitting the cost.
Run Away Lodge at Valmy
This motel is simple but a great place to stay if you are passing through. It has a full efficiency kitchen (with an oven/stovetop and full size fridge). There is also a firepit and all sorts of yard games you can use in the backyard area. We found this to be the perfect place to cook a meal and have a low key evening filled with yard games and a fire.
Use the Door County Website to find other dog friendly accommodations!
Looking for another midwest adventure? Check our our guides on Starved Rock State Park in Illinois and our Complete What to do Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Guide as well. Or looking to spend more time in Door County without your dog? See our friend Janice’s Door County Weekend Itinerary.
We hope this guide helps you plan your Dog-Friendly Trip to Door County. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
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